Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Blog at One

This is a sight seen increasing often at the Cathedral over the past 12 months: a priest with a camera! The reason, of course, is the Blog, which is one year old today. Curiously, this is also the 144th posting, a number which, in the Scriptures, signifies completeness. There is much to look forward to over the next twelve months, however, particularly as the Cathedral's 150th anniversary draws near. In recent weeks there seems to have been a surge of interest in the Blog, brought on by Bishop Campbell's ordination, and it has certainly proved to be an effective way for many people to gain access to the wonderful pictures that were taken. There is a more long-term benefit, however. As the 150th draws near, it is increasingly clear how little record exists of Cathedral life over the decades. Whether or not the Blog proves to be a long-term venture, it will at least provide a good photographic and written record of this period in the life of the Cathedral.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A quiet anniversary

Today marks an anniversary that could easily slip by unnoticed. It was on this day in 1857 that the Cathedral's foundation stone was blessed. The occasion was marked with a fair amount of ceremony last year, as the launch of preparations for the 150th anniversary in 2009. The day was the subject of the very first post on this blog - for a nostalgic moment, click here!

It was also on that day that the 150 Club was launched. Members pay £1 per week and stand a weekly chance of winning a £50 prize. Money raised from the fund will go towards funding various aspects of the celebrations in 2009.

Preparations for 2009 are well underway. A range of events is planned, including a flower festival (June), social events, a pilgrimage to Rome and an exhibition in the city museum. There is to be a reprint of the original parish history published in 1909 (thanks to a dedicated team of volunteer typists) and a second volume to bring the work up to date. There will be great celebrations at Mass and Vespers on the anniversary of the Dedication (Sunday 4th October); several major concerts and recitals are also planned. It is hoped that alongside the parish, the whole Diocese and the city of Lancaster will be able to celebrate this anniversary. Over the coming months a programme for the year will be finalised; news will be published here (of course!) as it is announced.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Smoke without fire

And now for something completely different! This morning the fire brigade visited the Cathedral. Fortunately there was no fire, nor was it one of those slightly embarrasing (but thankfully rare) occasions when the fire alarm is set off by incense - although incense was used at Mass today. Today they came as part of a safety awareness campaign being run by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. They met with people (particularly the elderly) after Mass to give out free advice on fire prevention and smoke alarms. It is good that services such as the fire brigade sometimes turn to the Church as a focal point for the local community. It also provided opportunity for some of our youngest parishioners to have a close-up look at the fire engine, which caused a certain amount of excitement!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Caption Competition

It looks like the starting point for a caption competition, but in fact it's another photo caught on camera by someone who was at the ordination two weeks ago. Perhaps this priest is checking that the Cardinal and the Nuncio regularly visit the Lancaster Cathedral Blog! Thanks to those who have sent in pictures; please keep them coming. The DVD is progressing well and hopefully we'll have copies available before too long. Meanwhile, the blogger is taking a few days break to recover from the business of recent weeks. Normal service will resume shortly!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Best of the Rest

A final selection of photographs from the ordination day. Above, two bishops of the Lancaster Diocese leave the Cathedral, where only one had entered.

Outside, Fr Groody realises that an MC's work is never done.

A considerable number of priests had cameras at the ready, hoping to get a reminder of the day.

Inside the house, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor meets the Cathedral's Director of Music, Damian Howard, after the ordination.

Now the Diocese can march forward with two bishops leading the way! We have exhausted just about every angle of the ordination over the last few days, and this is the last posting. There will be information about the DVD and the photographs being made available, as and when these are ready and prices have been worked out. And for Bishop Michael's many friends, on both sides of the Irish Sea and both sides of the Atlantic, be assured that when he passes through the Cathedral, we'll keep you up to date.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Ordination: The Photoshoot

After the ordination, a relieved and happy crowd of bishops, deacons and servers gathered on the lawn, ready for a few official photos to be taken. Some of the press had asked for photographs by 5pm - a deadline that was looming large, as the photoshoot didn't begin until nearly 2:45pm.

As they left the Cathedral, the key players were ushered onto the grass outside Cathedral House. The weather had been very poor in the days leading up to the ordination (and on the days after!) so we were fortunate to be able to take some pictures outside.

There was chance for a quick chat while the cameras were warmed up...

...then one of the photographers began to get everyone into position.

It wasn't just the official photographers who had their cameras out. A fair few people gathered on the path with cameras at the ready; these are all set for the 'best dressed photographer' competition! Many thanks to Mr B. Winstanley who has sent in many of the pictures used on today's blog entry.

Finally, the whole group assembled for the first picture: smiles all round!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Ordination Mass

Yet another day of ordination photos may seem a bit extreme, but we're not quite done yet! As the last episcopal ordination here was 46 years ago, it seems as though we should make the most of the excellent pictures that were taken.

Today, a few shots of the rest of the Mass. Above, Bishop Patrick places incense in the thurible at the start of Mass.

Here, people sit to hear one of the Scripture readings. The mitred heads of the bishops are easy to spot!

Above, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor preaches to a full house.

Finally, a wonderful shot of Bishop Patrick at the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. With bishops, priests and people all assembled, there is indeed a great sense of the Church gathered to gather to celebrate the mysteries that Christ has given us. We have a couple more days worth of photos left, with some of the more unusual/interesting saved to the end, so keep visiting!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Ordination: The Vestments

After the ordination, various groups gathered for photos on the lawn outside Cathedral House. The above photo, showing the two bishops surrounded by the four deacons, illustrates well the magnificent new vestments that were used. The were made in Poland at great speed - the order was only placed after Bishop Michael's appointment was announced in mid February - and purchased from Luzar Vestments. Richard Luzar's website can be found at

There were quite a few layers for the bishops to wear! Bishop Michael is pictures here. Over his purple cassock he is wearing an alb (the white garment), as is usual for Mass. Over the alb he wore a stole - a symbol of his authority. The stole is worn in the same manner by bishops and priests. Over this he wore a dalmatic (the squared-off edges and gold trim can be seen in the picture). The dalmatic is worn by deacons (as in the picture above), and so represents service, as deacons are servants within the Church. Finally, a chasuble is worn over all of these. Bishops and priests wear a chasuble for celebrating Mass. It represents charity, love. In this way the order of the vestments is significant: over the symbol of authority (the stole) is placed the symbol of service (the dalmatic); over all the symbol of charity is worn. This shows that the bishop's authority is to be used in service and out of love for the people in his care. By wearing all the symbols of office of priests and deacons, he also shows that he has the fulness of the sacrament of orders, and is able to confer these gifts on others by ordination.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Ordination Rite III

After the prayer of consecration is completed, various symbols are used; these help to explain the meaning of the sacrament of ordination.

First, Bishop Michael's head was anointed with the oil of Chrism. At priestly ordination, the hands are anointed; for a bishop, the anointing is on the head. Anointing has long been a sign of being chosen by God for a particular task - in the Old Testament, kings and priests are anointed in God's name. For Christians, it also shows how we are to be like Christ (the word 'Christ' literally means 'anointed one'.) After the anointing, Bishop Michael was presented with the Book of the Gospels, with the words, "Receive the Gospel and preach the Word of God with unfailing patience and sound teaching".

Next, the mitre and ring were blessed and presented to the new Bishop. The words used are very revealing: "Take this ring, the seal of your fidelity. With faith and love protect the bride of God, His holy Church."

He also received his crosier (pastoral staff), a reminder of his duty as shepherd of the people in his care. Again, he was reminded of his duty: "Take this staff as a sign of your pastoral office: keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you to shepherd the Church of God."

The crosier which Bishop Michael received and will use in the Diocese has a special significance for him. It belonged to Bishop Thomas Bernard Pearson, an auxiliary bishop in the Lancaster Diocese for many years. It was Bishop Pearson who ordained Fr Michael to the priesthood in 1971.

Following these presentations, all the assembled bishops came forward to greet Bishop Michael and welcome him to their ranks.

As before, a lengthy queue formed, but this time not in silence. Music accompanied this part of the rite, with the words "Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News" being sung.

Finally, Bishop Michael was led to his place on the sanctuary, with his brother bishops. This completed the ordination rite, and the Mass continued as normal.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Ordination Rite II

Today's pictures show the moment of ordination, which takes place in two actions: the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration.

Bishop Patrick, as principal consecrator, was first to lay his hands on Fr Michael's head. This is a very ancient action of the Church, frequently referred to in Scripture (most notably in the Acts of the Apostles). Primarily, it symbolises the calling down of the Holy Spirit. The same action is used in Mass to call the Spirit upon bread and wine, that they may be changed into Christ's Body and Blood. It is also used in confirmation, to call the Holy Spirit upon the candidates.

After Bishop Patrick, the other bishops come forward to do the same. Here, Most Rev. Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, lays his hands on Fr Michael's head...

... and here, Rt Rev. Brian Noble, Bishop of Shrewsbury. The Apostles received authority and the gift of the Holy Spirit from Christ Himself. Before their deaths, they passed this gift on to their successors, by the laying on of hands, and this line of contact is unbroken to this day. In this way the bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles, pass on both their ministry and their gifts to those they ordain to the episcopate.

Even the bishops who are not concelebrating at Mass take part in this action. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, is pictured above.

Here the Papal Nuncio, himself an archbishop, takes his turn. The cardinals and the nuncio put on a stole for this action, as a sign of their office as bishop and because they are participating in a sacramental action.

The pictures tell the story well. A long, silent line of bishops queued, each waiting to lay their hands on the bishop-elect. Above, it is the turn of Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary bishop in Westminster.

After this action was completed, the prayer of consecration was said. Two deacons held the Book of the Gospels over Fr Michael's head for the entire prayer. This symbolises the centrality of the Gospel in the life of a bishop. A bishop's calling as a successor of the Apostles is rooted in the Gospel; his duty is to preach the Gospel faithfully and fearlessly; his own life of faith must always be founded on what God has revealed to us in Christ.

Above, Bishop Patrick extends his hands over Fr Michael as he prays the prayer of consecration, which completes the change: Fr Michael knelt down as a priest; after the laying on of hands and the prayer, he rises as a bishop of the Church. Tomorrow there will be pictures of the final part of the ordination rite, in which Bishop Michael is presented with symbols of his new office.

Friday, 4 April 2008

The Ordination Rite I

For this and the next two postings, a look at the actual rite of ordination. It took place within Mass, beginning after the Gospel reading.

The rite begins when people stand and sing the hymn 'Veni Creator Spiritus', calling the Holy Spirit to come upon the man who is to be ordained. In this case an English translation, 'Come Holy Ghost', was used.

After the hymn, two assisting priests brought Fr Michael forward to the Bishop, to present him for ordination. To the left of Fr Michael we see Fr John Murphy OSA, currently based at Fr Michael's former parish in Hammersmith, and to the right Fr James McEvoy, who teaches in Belfast. They asked the Bishop to ordain Fr Michael, and he replied: "Have you a mandate from the Holy See?" "We have", they answered, to which the Bishop responded, "Let it be read".

The mandate came from Pope Benedict, who appoints all bishops. Everybody sat while it was read in Latin by the Diocesan Chancellor, Monsignor Michael Tully, who then read his own English translation. The people gave their assent with the words, "Thanks be to God."

Fr Michael then stood before the Bishop. The rite demands that a bishop-elect is questioned at some length about his commitment to his duties, his faithfulness to God and the Church, and his desire to be a caring father and shepherd of the people under his guidance. Each question begins with the words, "Are you resolved...", and is answered with the words, "I am". The last time, the bishop-elect answers, "I am, with the help of God". It is an important reminder of our reliance on God if we are to do what is right. Finally, the presiding bishop prays, "May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfilment".

The Bishop invites everyone to pray. The Litany of the Saints follows, calling on the saints in heaven to join their prayers to ours, so that the man who is to be ordained by be strengthened by the prayers of the whole Church, on earth and in heaven. During the Litany Fr Michael prostrated himself before the sanctuary, as a sign of his absolute abandonment to God and his reliance on God's help. All of these acts: the presentation, the mandate, the questioning and the litany, prepare for the central part of the rite: the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration.

Making the headlines

The historic and somewhat grand nature of Monday's ordination made it an attractive feature for the local press. There has been a fair amount of interest in Barrow, where Bishop Michael will reside during his period as coadjutor, as well as from the Lancaster area. Pictured is the report from today's Lancaster Guardian. The Guardian sent a photographer to get some pictures of the procession, and have produced an excellent slideshow on their webiste. Click here for their report and here for the slideshow.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Ordination: The New Bishop's Blessing

Another selection of photos tomorrow, but for today, a brief reminder of an important moment at the end of the ordination. The rite for the ordination of a bishop states that the new bishop walks around the congregation, offering them his blessing, while the Te Deum - a great hymn of thanksgiving - is sung. Bishop Michael did a full tour of the Cathedral, blessing the people and clergy, and giving everyone the chance to see the new bishop close-up!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Ordination: Who's who?

For today's photo offering, a selection of some of the people who were present at the ordination, many of whom will need little or no introduction. Above, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, who preached at the Mass. He spoke of his sorrow that Bishop Campbell was leaving Westminster, but added, "But if you do have to leave us, where better than Lancaster?"

We were also delighted that Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, was present. It is believed to be the first time that two cardinals have attended an event at the Cathedral.

Above, the two cardinals approach the sanctuary at the start of Mass, under the diligent watch of the Master of Ceremonies, Fr Peter Groody. Fr Groody is a local parish priest who previously served at the Cathedral; he is also well known to those who attend Vespers each Sunday.

Alongside the two cardinals, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, came representing the Holy Father, Pope Benedict. The Nuncio is the Pope's ambassador to the British Government, and represents the Pope in all matters in the UK. He also coordinates the process of selecting bishops. At the end of Mass, Bishop Patrick thanked the Nuncio for the gift of our new Bishop. The Archbishop told the congregation that he was delighted to come to Lancaster - his first visit to the city.

The two cardinals and the Nuncio sat in choir during the Mass...

...and emerged at the end with a small crowd of onlookers. On the steps there are also some Knights of St Columba, who were invaluable in helping to steward people and oversee the car parking.

The Cathedral was honoured also to be visited by Fr Robert Prevost OSA (nearest the camera), the Prior General of the Augustinian Order. Based in Rome, he oversees the order throughout the world. Fr David Middleton OSA, the local Provincial, and many of the Augustinian priests of this Province also attended.

Closest to the camera, in uniform, is Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, who represented the Queen. The Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria was also present, as was Geraldine Smith (Member of Parliament for Morecambe and Lunesdale), the Deputy Mayor of Lancaster, local councillors and a representative from the University of Cumbria. The eagle-eyed may also spot Fr John Watson (facing the camera at the back of the photo, just to the left of the pillar), who is Parish Priest of St Mary's, Barrow, where Bishop Campbell will live until he takes over fully next year.

An array of Papal Knights and Dames also joined the procession, adding a little more grandeur!

At an episcopal ordination, three bishops are required. Alongside Bishop Patrick are the two co-consecrators, who both started life as priests in the Diocese of Lancaster. On the left of the photo is Bishop Brian Noble (Shrewsbury), who grew up in the Cathedral parish and was educated at our school. To the right is Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, who originally comes from Morecambe and for a couple of years served as an assistant priest at the Cathedral.

Most importantly, many of Bishop Michael's family and friends attended, along with representatives from each parish and religious house in the Diocese, headteachers, diocesan employees and representatives of various diocesan commissions. There are many more who would have liked to attend, but sadly the restrictions of space did not allow for any more people. We squeezed in as many people as we could!